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Autism-like features

Q: My daugter is 1 year 9 months old. She has not started speaking till now. She only says papa, dada etc., but it is not addressed to anybody. She does not take commands. She also hears selectively. Music she dances to, if we scold her she starts crying, sharp noises she does not like, for example, cooker whistle, small toy piano etc. She does not even look at us when we call her name. Her doctor has suggested a hearing test and a thyroid test. We are really worried whether she will speak or not.

A:The first step should be to get her hearing tested as your doctor has advised. There could be a problem with hearing, but since you say that she gets startled by loud noises, there could be some other reason for the lack of development of speech and not paying attention when her name is called out. You should also get her evaluated by a child psychologist to rule out a condition called Autism. Autism is a communication disorder which is usually evident before a child is 30 months old. In this condition, the child can hear well, but is so uncommunicative that one may feel that the child does not hear at all. If this is the case, then intervention will have to be started as soon as possible. However, do not get alarmed before all the tests have been completed and the problem is diagnosed. Consult a doctor without delay so that any treatment may be started immediately.

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